Cancer survivor, 4, so excited to start school she’s already wearing uniform

A girl who spent the first coronavirus lockdown in hospital and who has been in and out of the children’s ward since is finally getting ready to walk through the school gates

Little Sumayyah is getting ready for her first day of school

A four-year-old girl who has beaten cancer twice is counting down the days until she can finally start school.

Little Sumayyah Hassan, from Enfield in North London, will start reception on Tuesday, 7 September after spending the last three years in and out of hospital.

The adorable tot was diagnosed with leukaemia in August 2018, when she was just 19 months old. She spent the next six months living in Great Ormond Street Hospital while she had treatment.

Mum Amira said: “She started feeling unwell with tonsilitis and a fever. I went to the GP and he checked her and said it’s a mild case of tonsilitis and she’ll get better with a week’s course of antibiotics.

“My heart kept telling me something’s not right and I just felt uneasy. I kept going back and forth, I felt at this point that I wasn’t being heard, I wasn’t being taken seriously. I knew something was wrong with my child.”

Sumayyah can’t wait for the first day of school


Young Lives vs Cancer)

She started to feel unwell in the summer of 2018


Young Lives vs Cancer)

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Eventually Sumayyah’s condition worsened and she stopped eating. That’s when she was taken into hospital and had several tests.

Recalling the chilling moment she was given the news, Amira said: “Late at night when she was asleep, the team came and told me ‘I want to talk to you in private’.

“Everybody sat there I noticed a table, there was water and a box of tissues and everybody was looking at me, I just couldn’t think what was going on but I knew this wasn’t going to be good news.

“And then the doctor looked at me and said ‘your daughter has leukaemia’. That’s when everything fell apart.”

After half a year of treatment, Sumayyah was sent home. But within just five months, the cancer returned.

“We were home trying to live a normal life and five months later Sumayyah was taken back into hospital. It was a big shock. It was difficult as this time Sumayyah needed a transplant.”

While she prepared to have the transplant, Amira’s mum came over from Tanzania. The charity Young Lives vs Cancer helped her prepare the paperwork to bring her mum to the UK.

Then, in September 2019, Amira donated her stem cells to her daughter in the hope it would cure her. But in a terrifying twist, the toddler suffered side effects.

After spending months in GOSH, Sumayyah was sent home, but tragically, her cancer returned


Young Lives vs Cancer)

After more treatment and a stem cell transplant, Sumayyah is finally starting school


Young Lives vs Cancer)

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In March 2020, Amira found her daughter suffering from seizures and rushed her back to GOSH, where she stayed for three months. The beginning of the coronavirus lockdown, Amira and Sumayyah weren’t allowed a single visitor.

The stress of being in hospital with no friends or family able to visit took its toll on Amira, who began to suffer from PTSD. She reached out to a Young Lives vs Cancer social worker for support.

She said: “I kept replaying the images in my mind, the events that happened and if there was any way I could have prevented it. I felt like I nearly lost her. I needed to talk to someone.”

Over the next months, Sumayyah was in and out of of hospital having tests – and until a few weeks ago Amira wasn’t sure if she’d make her first day at school.

“We have been counting weeks and now days,” Amira said. “Sumayyah can’t wait any longer now.”

Throughout Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Young Lives vs Cancer is encouraging people to make a £1 donation for a yellow ribbon so show support for kids like Sumayyah.

The charity is also running Challenge60 – encouraging people to complete 60 miles throughout the month through any means they like – walking, running or cycling.

You can find more information about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, make a donation or shop online at #MoreThanMyCancer

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